Fiction: The Day My Father Died

February 9, 2016 Fiction , POETRY / FICTION

By

Michael Inioluwa Oladele

 

 

And now as I reflect on the evil events of those days, I still ask myself “How did I manage to survive? How did I manage to find my way back to our village?” I still remember it as though it were only yesterday. Only God knew why we were in Kano at that bloody time. Perhaps because before that time, Kano was just Kano. It had not become a place where we Igbos were not allowed to live in; it had not become a place where, as they said, we had taken control of all the trades. Perhaps because before that time, Kano was peaceful, as peaceful as anywhere else.

 

It happened in July. July…1966.

I was in the sitting room, packing my things as father had ordered me to do. I did not know what was going on. Papa had just rushed in and told me that we were leaving Kano. He did not say why, and I did not ask why because if I did, I knew he would shout the answer at me.

“Be fast Uche, this place is no more safe for us.” Father said as he closed the windows and drew the curtains together.

“Where are we going father? What of mother?” I asked fearfully.

“Once your mother is back, we leave. We are going to Mama’s place in Umuahia.” Father was panting, it was getting dark. We had now finished packing and were waiting patiently for my mother when the evil ones knocked. My father put his index finger on his lips, a sign that I should be quiet. I nodded and then he whispered to me to hide. Quickly, I hid under the table behind the sofa facing the door.

“Get back!” I heard from where I stood. Fear gripped my soul. It was too late. Father had been pushed to the floor by the two men who just entered. Their smell and accent told me they were Hausas. They smelt of blood.

“Are you Igbo? Tell us! Are you Igbo?!!” The one who had pushed my father to the floor asked brandishing a blood-stained machete.

Father was shivering on the floor as the man kicked him. I was scared where I was. Scared of so many things, scared that they would kill my father, scared that they would find me where I was hiding, scared that mother would come inside at this evil moment. Blood was dripping from the man’s machete, a sign that it had been used not so long ago.

“Is he deaf?!” The other man shouted. He was standing impatiently at the door, perhaps wanting to create more havoc before nightfall.

He had a rifle in his hands.

“Hahaha!!!” The machete-holding man laughed wickedly. “Wait Ahmadu, let’s see how he denies being Igbo.”

Then I saw my father stand to his feet and look into the vandal’s eyes. He opened his mouth and said,

“I will never deny my source.”

For a fleeting moment, I was excited at my father’s bravery, his courage. Yes! Father was a brave man. However, what happened next sent chills up my back. The machete-holding man got furious. He looked into my father’s eyes and said,

“Then go and defend it in heaven.” And then he flipped his machete and sent my father’s head rolling on the floor. Father was dead. At first I did not believe my eyes, until my father’s headless body fell to the floor with a loud thud.

“Father!!” I screamed bitterly as I emerged from the table. The vandals had gone. I did not know which to check first, whether it was the headless body in a pool of blood or the bald head gushing out blood inches away.

“Father! No! No!!” I kept on screaming. Was this how people died? I still could not believe that barely two minutes ago, father was making plans of how we would leave Kano. To me, the world had ended. What was left? What then was I doing there beside my father’s body? Why was I not lying there dead, headless? Why wasn’t everywhere quiet?

Father was gone, gone. Life was useless. Nothing was making sense anymore, nothing, not even the cries of other people outside. Father was everything to me. He was always the one in charge. Before now, my life had direction, it had meaning. But now, it did not. I kept on weeping there when the whole house suddenly caught fire. They had set our house on fire – inhumanity. Quickly, I grabbed my father’s head, my bag and ran out. Pain was flowing out of every part of me. I never learnt to cry with style and so I cried loudly. The veins on my neck cried with me too. Everyone heard my cries, but no one came to console me. We were all in the same shoes. I knew the vandals must have been to their house too. Mama Nkechi was rolling on the floor, calling on the vandals to come and take her too, asking then why they did not kill her too.

 

I knew Nkechi. She was a very beautiful girl and we went to the same school together. I used to admire her and look at her legs whenever we were walking home together. She had straight legs and she was yellow. I could remember that she represented our class in the school beauty contest. Whenever we have drama practice, I always prayed our roles would link together. My prayer was never answered until last week when our drama teacher said I would play the father and Nkechi would play the mother in our next school drama, next month. I never knew I would not get a chance to ever play that role, to ever hold Nkechi’s hands, to ever touch her jet black hair, to ever tell her I love her.

I cast a last look at our burning house and then walked away – a 10-year old orphan with no sense of direction.

And so since then, I haven’t set eyes on my mother. I do not know whether she is dead or alive. But I still believe she’s alive, perhaps searching for me. I know that one day we will meet. I know that God will bring us together. Yes, I know that.

Am still searching for her, perhaps you can help me. If you see my mother, tell her am still alive, searching for her.

 

 

 

 

 

Michael Inioluwa Oladele

Michael Inioluwa Oladele is a Nigerian student, a blogger and a writer. He was the president of his school’s Literary and Debating Society and also that of the Chess and Scrabble club. He is the last child of the family of six and is 17 years old. He likes writing, reading, singing and playing board games.

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